Residents urge insurance commissioner to join lawsuit over flood rates

Published: Oct. 15, 2013 at 9:28 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2013 at 9:59 PM CDT
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VENETIAN ISLES, La. - Louisiana residents facing massive flood insurance rate hikes urge the state insurance commissioner to take action. They want him to file suit against the federal government to block the increases that they say could cost them their homes.

A sense of relief settles over Venetian Isles as another hurricane season draws to a close, but not all is calm.

"They didn't know how they would affect the rest of the country," said resident Cheryl Kelly.

Hundreds of residents in Venetian isles, which is outside new flood protection, face exponential increases in flood insurance due to new FEMA rates. They want action, not just for Venetian Isles, but for other areas, as well.

"Other people I have talked to in Slidell, Rigolets Estates, in V zones, rates going up 25 percent," Kelly said.

In Jesuit Bend, Scott Morse was stunned to learn that flood insurance for his home was increasing from $400 a year to $13,000.

Morse and others are now urging Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon to follow through on a promise to sue the feds to try and block the hikes. Though he's made the commitment, Donelon hasn't decided whether Louisiana will go it alone in federal court or join  a lawsuit already filed in Mississippi.

"Personally, I think anytime you team up with someone else you get more of a voice heard," Morse said.

While many are urging for a lawsuit to be filed, they say the real solution lies elsewhere.

"I want Congress to clean up the mess they created," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

But once again, Congress, can't agree.

"The House has acted, but nothing's made it through the Senate," said Morse.

"They really don't know what they passed," said Kelly.

Morse, who is head of the New Orleans Homebuilders Association, said many are looking for a way out.

"We are looking at alternative methods with other groups to try and provide catastrophic insurance," he said.

When faced with insurance rates as high as house notes, these homeowners say will take their relief anywhere they can get it

A spokesperson for Donelon said no timetable has been set for when he will file suit.